The volunteers trying to bring an ice rink and swimming pool to the West Coast are looking for help promoting the project to residents.
The West Coast Multiplex Society is hoping to increase its community engagement this year and plans to hire a paid employee for the first time in over five years.
The society’s chair Samantha Hackett said the 12-member board is entirely comprised of volunteers and with a steady stream of activity anticipated over the next few years, the time is right to bring in an administration and communications manager.
“Everything is coming together at once and now is the time…We’ve, sort of, exhausted all of our time and energy in making sure we’ve got all the plans and the pieces in place so that, when we’re successful, we’re ready to put shovels in the ground,” she said. “It’s taken over 20 years already and it may take a few more years until it gets going. It’s not something that’s going to happen tomorrow. We just want to make sure that over this next year, if not for the next two or three years, however long we need to, that we can keep the conversation open…We need the talk around town to be all things multiplex.”
The successful applicant will be tasked with steering the society’s online presence, including social media and the website, promoting the proposed multiplex at public events like markets and festivals, and overseeing potential newsletters.
Hackett noted the society enjoyed some success through efforts to engage with West Coasters at several events last year and now wants to increase those opportunities.
“They were really beneficial. The response from the community was really positive, getting updates and just seeing more of a presence, so it was something we identified for this year that we wanted to prioritize,” she said.
Prior to becoming the West Coast’s Member of Parliament for the Courtenay-Alberni riding in 2015, Gord Johns served as the Society’s project manager from 2012-2013.
Johns saw the project through a 2012 referendum that saw 62 per cent of 1,094 West Coast voters cast ballots in favour of funding up to $450,000 of the proposed facility’s annual operating costs through property taxation.
Shovels have yet to hit the ground on the project however and results from a survey circulated by the Alberni Clayoquot Regional District in 2018 suggested support for the project had waned, with 51 per cent of survey respondents expressing opposition to the multiplex moving ahead.
Following the survey’s results being published, the ACRD’s West Coast committee members—comprised of Tofino, Ucluelet, Electoral Area C and the Ucluelet First Nation— stated their continued support of the project.
In January of 2019, the West Coast Committee agreed to endorse a grant application submitted to the federal government by the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation that would cover 90 per cent of the facility’s roughly $18 million construction cost.
“We’re hoping to hear back on what the result of that is any day now, to be honest, we were supposed to hear back in the fall,” Hackett said. “We’re hoping that we hear back soon whether we were fully successful, partially successful or unsuccessful this round.”
She added that, if the application is denied, the society would continue to scour for grant opportunities and remains steadfast that no local tax dollars will go towards the facility’s construction costs.
The deadline to apply for the society’s new Administration and Communications Manager position is Feb. 29.
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